This bargain free agent could be the key to a Packers playoff run

Green Bay Packers, Brian Gutekunst
Green Bay Packers, Brian Gutekunst / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

It's no secret that Green Bay Packers kicker Anders Carlson is already on the hot seat after just one season in the NFL.

After nailing every kick through the first five weeks of the season, the back half of the year was nothing short of a reversal. On a streak beginning in Week 8 against the Los Angeles Rams, Carlson missed a kick in 10 of the final 12 games of the season, most notably a missed 41-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter of the divisional round.

Despite being a rookie, the former Auburn Tiger was nowhere close to meeting the NFL standard for a kicker, and kicks such as the missed field goal against the San Francisco 49ers are the reasons for many losses.

With free agency nearly in full swing, a cheap option could fill one of the Packers' most important needs.

Packers should consider signing former Pro Bowl kicker Nick Folk in free agency

It's not every day that a kicker of Nick Folk's caliber becomes available on the open market, as teams know the value of having a reliable kicker. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Folk is planning to test free agency.

After making 29 of 30 field-goal attempts and all his extra points last season with the Tennessee Titans, Folk should draw heavy interest from many teams around the league. After the kicking disaster the Packers underwent in the second half of the season, it would be unwise to not look into signing the veteran kicker.

The NFL's highest-paid kicker, Justin Tucker, makes $6 million per season, leaving one to assume Folk could be signed for a relatively cheap contract.

Given the Packers do have a developing kicker and Folk is 39 years old, they could offer him a one-year, $5 million contract with kicking incentives for extra money to sweeten the deal.

Anders Carlson can learn from Nick Folk in 2024

It's beyond an overreaction at this point to consider cutting Anders Carlson after just one season. When drafting Carlson, the Packers knew he had a big leg but struggled with accuracy issues. Carlson nailed just 12 of his 17 field goals in his final year at Auburn, good enough for 70%.

A veteran such as Folk could help Carlson develop, and giving Carlson a year out of the spotlight could be beneficial for both himself and the Packers. By no means is it time to give up on their draft pick, but a year out of the spotlight may be just what he needs, while Folk can step in and produce at a high level right away.

Many would argue the Packers were a field goal away from playing in the NFC Championship Game, and unfortunately, history cannot be changed. A kick that was wide left surely remains in Carlson's head as much as any Packers fan's.

Green Bay has an opportunity to bring in a talented player at one of the most crucial positions in football on an affordable contract. Having Carlson on the bench would give him a chance to learn and develop while Folk kicks under the lights at Lambeau Field.

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